The real-life Aquaman: Brave Tongan swept out to sea by tsunami is hailed a hero after calmly drifting for 28 HOURS through darkness and strong currents to reach safety
- Brave Tongan islander was washed out to sea by Saturday’s volcanic eruption
- Lisala Folau swept away when a tsunami hit Atata – an island near the mainland
- Mr Folau miraculously survived by letting currents carry him for more than 15km
- He first drifted to other nearby islands before reaching mainland late on Sunday
Tongan Lisala Folau miraculously swam for 28 hours to safety after a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption swept him out to sea
A brave Tongan who was swept out to sea by a tsunami after Saturday’s volcanic eruption miraculously drifted through darkness and rough currents for 28 hours before reaching safety.
Lisala Folau was swept away when the tsunami hit Atata – a small island near the Tonga capital Nuku’alofa – about 6pm on Saturday.
Mr Folau survived by letting the waves carry him for more than 15km, finally reaching the mainland at 10pm on Sunday.
Mr Folau first drifted for 12 hours to the island of Toketoke, before reaching nearby Polo’a at 9pm on Sunday and a beach in Nuku’alofa an hour later.
‘Such a brave man,’ Tongan TV company Kingdom Digital wrote on Facebook.
Mr Folau survived by letting the waves carry him for more than 15km for 28 hours – initially from island to island before he finally reached the mainland
‘He casually lets the current carry him and has two pit stops at uninhabited islands, then reaches mainland after being alone in the water for more than 24 hours!’
Almost all of the buildings on Atata were destroyed and the island’s entire population of about 100 people have been evacuated.
Three workers at a resort on the island are still missing.
UN humanitarian officials report about 84,000 people – more than 80 per cent of Tonga’s population – have been impacted by the volcanic eruption.
The first humanitarian flights departed for Tonga early Thursday, carrying much needed aid supplies to the Pacific island nation.
Fights departed from Australia and New Zealand after the runway on the island’s main airport was cleared of ash, an Australian official said.
The first humanitarian flights departed for Tonga early Thursday, carrying much needed aid supplies to the volcano and tsunami-devastated Pacific island nation. Pictured: A helicopter on the deck of HMAS Adelaide en route to Tonga on Wednesday
Wasteland: The coastline of the tropical paradise has been flattened in some areas with palm trees and buildings swept away
Pictured: A plume rises over Tonga after the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted in this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency on January 15, 2022
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister said it had sent a C-130 Hercules from Auckland which will land in Nuku’alofa at about 4 pm New Zealand time.
The delivery of supplies will be contactless and the aircraft is expected to be on the ground for up to 90 minutes before returning to New Zealand.
Tonga is Covid-19 free and there are concerns aid personnel may bring the virus to the nation. Vaccination against the virus is as high as 90 percent among Tongans.
Lisala’s journey took him between several uninhabited islands off the coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, before he eventually reached safety
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted about 40 miles (65 km) from the Tongan capital with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, and sent tsunamis across the Pacific Ocean.
Waves reaching up to 15 metres (49 feet) hit the outer Ha’apia island group, destroying all the houses on the island of Mango, as well as the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu.
‘Tsunami of Covid’ fears hamper Tonga rescue efforts
Rescue efforts for disaster-stricken Tonga are being hampered because of the Pacific islands’ strict zero-Covid policy.
The country has confirmed just one case so far – a traveller who was in isolation at the time – and despite 60 per cent of people being fully vaccinated, is determined to stop any more from arriving.
Tonga has not spelled out the reasons for its policy, though rates of obesity on the islands are among the highest in the world – almost 60 per cent for men and 45 per cent for women – with obesity being a major comorbidity for Covid.
A study by the World Obesity Federation published in March last year found that Covid death rates are ten times higher in countries where more than half of adults are overweight or obese, such as the UK, US, and Italy.
Researchers even suggested that obese people be given priority for vaccination, along with elderly or clinically vulnerable people.
Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, head of Tonga’s mission in Australia, said Monday that any aid sent to the islands could have to undergo quarantine due to the risk of it being contaminated by Covid – despite the risk of transmission from packaging being very low.
Humanitarian workers sent to the islands will also be expected to undergo 21-day mandatory quarantine on arrival, the government has warned New Zealand and Australia which are helping rescue efforts.
Quarantine may be waived for emergency aid workers.
It comes despite the government warning today that water supplies on all of Tonga’s islands are badly contaminated with ash from the volcano.
Mr Tuihalangingie told Australia’s national broadcaster ABC that keeping the country virus-free remains a priority, warning of a second ‘tsunami of Covid’.